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July 28, 2016
Bishop Peggy Johnson announces new pastoral appointments or assignments

Central District
  • Rodney Brailsford (Local Pastor--First Appointment) to Norristown: Haws Avenue (half time). Effective July 1, 2016  
See the full list of appointments on our website.
Returning Bishop is 'Grateful!'
Reassigned to continue leading Philadelphia Area UMs for another four years, Bishop Peggy Johnson sums up her emotions, in her Bishop's Blog, in one word: "Grateful!" "This has been an answer to prayer, as I feel that my work is not yet finished." She also expresses gratitude for the exceptional hospitality our folks extended to fellow UMs from around the region at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lancaster, Pa., July 11-15.   Learn more...
UM clergy close both political conventions in prayer
Two UM clergymen are part of the prayer life of both national political conventions happening this month in the U.S. presidential race. And both get to play their key roles on the climactic final night, one at the start, the other at the finish.

In Philadelphia this week, the Rev. William Shillady, director of the New York Conference's United Methodist City Society, will give the closing prayer on Thursday, July 28, at the Democratic National Convention. The party's history-making nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, herself a United Methodist, asked Shillady, a family friend, to do the honors.

Last week the Rev. Steven Bailey, a UM Superintendent in the Ohio East Conference, gave the prayer of invocation on the closing night, Thursday, June 21, of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He said his prayer, "intended for a worldwide audience" of many faith traditions, was a request "for God to transform us and make us a greater, more courageous people." Learn more...
Safe Sanctuaries & Church Computer Use policies need all input by Aug. 18
If you have suggestions for further improving Eastern PA Conference's Safe Sanctuaries Policies, a current work in progress, the task group with that responsibility needs to hear from you by no later than August 18. The Safe Sanctuaries Committee has posted its updated resolution of policy revisions on our website. Revisions suggested at Annual Conference in June are highlighted in yellow. The committee wants to receive all additional suggestions by August 18 and consider them when it meets the last week of August to finalize the revised resolution for presentation to the Conference Adjourned Session on Oct. 1.

Please review the current Safe Sanctuaries Resolution to Annual Conference, with highlighted changes, and send any suggestions for further changes to the Rev. James Wilkin, committee chai rman, at, by no later than August 18.

In addition, the Computer Network and Internet Access Policy Resolution, which was not presented to the Annual Conference in June because of lack of time, also contains slight changes highlighted in yellow. Please review it and send any suggestions for further changes to the Rev. James Wilkin, chair, at, by no later than August 18. This resolution is offered jointly by the Safe Sanctuaries Committee and the conference's Communications Ministry Team. 

Adjourned Session online registration now open
Online registration for the 2016 Adjourned Session of Annual Conference i s now available

The Adjourned Session will enable conference members to ratify the 2017 Budget, hear more about a proposed New Apportionment Formula for funding ministry and complete other conference business, including voting on resolutions not presented or completed at the Annual Conference in June. Those resolutions include:
Onsite registration begins at 8 AM, followed by a time of collective prayer in the sanctuary at 8:30 and then worship and Holy Conferencing at 9 AM. The session must end by 3:30 PM to make room for a Saturday evening service.
A special offering during worship will fund scholarships to help clergy and laity attend the conference's weekend Changing Racism Workshops offered twice a year. That decision comes in the wake of the recent Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops' statement on opposing racism, injustice and violence, delivered at Jurisdictional Conference. The next Changing Racism workshop will occur Oct. 28-30
Register online now for fall Laity Retreat
You can now register online for the fall Laity Retreat to be held on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 9 AM to 1:30 PM, in the fellowship hall of Jarrettown UMC in Dresher, Pa. The $25 cost includes retreat materials and meals. The theme is "Perceiving,  Believing and Receiving Our Blessedness." This event is sponsored by the Board of Laity. "Come for the blessing ... wonderful speakers ... spirit-filled fellowship... renewal ... relaxation ... revival." For more information contact Suzette James, Assistant Conference Lay Leader at
3 UM clergy arrested for sit-in protest over wages at PHL
About a dozen clergy leaders staged a sit-in protest for higherwagesat Philadelphia International Airport on
Thursday, July 21, and were briefly arrested. Among them were: the Rev. David Tatgenhorst, pastor of St. Luke UMC in Bryn Mawr; the Rev. Robin Hynicka, pastor of Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia; and the Rev. Gregory Holston, pastor of New Vision UMC in Philadelphia. All are members of the interfaith social justice organization POWER that is contending for the payment of living wages to low-income workers. They went to the Philadelphia Airport "to support a worker who was fired for inquiring about her pay," wrote Tatgenhorst in a message to the Conference Communications Office. Learn more... 
District leaders mourn murdered French priest as ministry role model
Eastern PA Conference leaders are mourning this week's brutal murder of a popular Catholic priest in a terrorist attack on a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. The tragic killing of Father Jacques Hamel, 83, comes two weeks after another murderous terrorist attack during a Bastille Day celebration in Nice left 84 dead.

"We mourn this day with our Catholic sisters and brothers around the world following the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France," wrote the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Southeast District Superintendent, to clergy in her district. "Father Jacques Hamel served God's people his whole life.

"As we pray and act for peace this day, may we be even more resolved in our calling to proclaim the Gospel of peace," she continued. "Remembering Father Hamel, may you and I be renewed in our own vocational call, remembering this calling is a way of life.  And may we serve God's people until our very last breath."

The East District's weekly newsletter also called on leaders to "pray for our Catholic sisters and brothers around the world.... Pray for peace. Act for peace. Be more resolved to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is a call to love God and others as ourselves."
Mission Connexion plans prayer vigil for God's peace, protection
Methodists United, the Shamokin Area Mission Connexion, in the Northwest District, "seeks to stand as a witness to the world of the peace that comes through following and emulating Jesus Christ," announced the Rev. Karyn Fisher, the group's president and pastor of St. John's UMC in Shamokin.

"Therefore, in response to the heart-wrenching violence that has rocked our world in recent months, the churches of Methodists United will gather to pray for peace for all people and for God's protection for our law enforcement officers."

The Mission Connexion will hold prayer vigils during August in various locations: 
  • Aug. 6: at the Coal Township Police Station, at 6 PM; and The Shamokin Police Station, at 7 PM.
  • Aug. 13: On Market Street in the heart of Shamokin 
  • Aug. 20: The Elysburg Police Department, at 6 PM; and The Stonington Police Department, at 7 PM
Contact Fisher with any questions (
Come learn about Radical Disciple-Making Oct.  8
Don't miss a dynamic learning event that could become pivotal in transforming your church's discipleship efforts from routine to radical.  Thorndale UMC  (3503 Lincoln Highway, Thorndale, PA. Phone: 610-384-2433) will host a Radical Disciple-Making Seminar  on  Saturday, Oct.  8 , from 8:30 AM to 3:45 PM.
The seminar will be led by the  Effective Church Group, directed by renowned church growth author, coach and discipleship development expert Bill Easum.  It will offer practical strategies and profound insights to teach participants how every church can grow to become a radical disciple-making force for Jesus Christ. Read  Bishop Johnson's letter  and visit the  seminar website  to find out more.You can register online at  Contact the Rev. Mark Moore of Thorndale UMC with questions at
Phila. church restoring vitality with help from its district
Historic Solid Rock UMC in Philadelphia (at 199 E. Tabor Road) has a new pastor, but it's restoring its old, more familiar name, St. James UMC.The 200-year-old church is also restoring its mission as a growing, vital institution in its growing community.

Solid Rock/St. James' energetic young pastor, John Brice, is getting a lot of help, although he could use a lot more. He received an outpouring of neighborly assistance on Saturday, June 25. That's when more than two dozen clergy and laity from across the East District showed up to help clean, make repairs and spruce up a still-sturdy church that has seen better days.

"I witnessed an exceptional group of believers in the body of Christ, both women and men from different backgrounds, sacrificing and humbling themselves to serve and volunteer in our district's One Church at a Time mission project," said Brice. Learn more...
Bishops affirm church unity, study commission progress
The UM Council of Bishops' Executive Committee has approved a framework for implementing its special commission to study human sexuality and the Book of Discipline, and it may call for a special session of General Conference to consider proposed changes in 2018.

The Council acknowledged dramatic events happening in the church since the General Conference approved in May its proposal to offer A Way Forward. That includes declarations of non-compliance with church law from several annual conferences, moves to create a theologically orthodox Wesleyan Covenant Association, and the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, a married lesbian clergywoman, in the Western Jurisdiction.

But the bishops reaffirmed their commitment to seek unity as they lead the church forward. They adopted a purpose statement for the commission, along with expectations that 20-25 members will be identified by Aug. 31 and may have an initial meeting in October. Learn more...
Resources to help us talk about race and racism
At the UMC Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in July the NEJ College of Bishops called for racial and cultural bridge-building in the wake of racial tensions and the killings of black citizens and police officers across the nation. With that in mind, the Rev. Susan Worrell, a Deacon and the new chairperson of the Eastern PA Conference Commission on Religion and Race, invites districts and churches to explore new interracial communication resources from the General Commission on Religion and Race. A new Racial Justice Conversations Guide, accessible from our website, offers a collection of resources for dialogues, including:
  • Suggested ground rules;
  • An opening prayer and a Scripture lesson from Luke 10:30-37 ("The Parable of the Good Samaritan");
  • Two glossaries-"Terms for New Conversations" and "A Glossary for Talking about Race"; and
  • Questions for reflection and a list of next steps.
Worrell serves in ministry at UM Church of the Open Door (UMCOD), an innovative, interracial congregation in Kennet Square that will host a monthly series of TED Talks and discussions on racism. The church invites everyone to come explore together the realities of racism in our communities with the help of topical TED Talk videos.  "Let's grow together as we strive to understand each other better and break down the barriers," reads their announcement. The three gatherings will be on second Thursdays, from 5:30-7:00 PM. UMCOD is at 210 S. Broad Street (Phone: 610-444-2400).

On Aug. 11 they will examine " How we're priming some kids for college - and others for prison"  with sociologist Alice Goffman, who spent six years in a troubled Philadelphia neighborhood seeing first-hand how teenagers of African-American and Latino backgrounds are funneled down the path to prison.

On Sept. 8 they will consider "Does Racism Affect How You Vote?" with math wizard Nate Silver, an expert in statistical research and predictive outcomes. And on  Oct. 13 human rights attorney, author and sought-after speaker Bryan Stevenson will address racial discrimination in the criminal justice system in " We need to talk about an injustice."

Finally, the East District will sponsor an overnight retreat next year, Jan. 20-21, to also talk about race relations. Since there is no Bishop's Mid-Winter Retreat planned, the district will offer a weekend Conversation on Race Relations for its clergy and laity. They are hoping for committed participants and searching for a convenient retreat site in the district's vicinity. For more information contact the district office.
Belong Tour for women of faith will come to Phila.
Sept. 16-17
The 2016 Belong Tour (formerly the Women of Faith Tour) comes to Philly Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17, at the  Wells Fargo Center (3601 S. Broad St., Philadelphia). This live event brings tens of thousands of women together in arenas across the country to hear remarkable speakers to communicate "how to live a fun, faith-filled, purposeful life." They will share "personal stories, music, laughter and maybe even some tears in this open space where women can connect to one another, to see and know each other, and carry each other's burdens." For information about group discounts and special offers, call 1.888.550.8910. Order tickets at the Wells Fargo website.  
Wall That Heals comes to Brandywine July 28

Hopewell UMC will co-host The Wall That Heals, a 250-foot replica of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be installed for viewing from July 28 to 31, at East Brandywine Community Park, 440 Dilworth Road, Downingtown. The church and the East Brandywine Township, co-will sponsor the exhibit and an opening ceremony at the site to celebrate its significance on Thursday, July 28, at 6:30 PM. The stark exhibit of dark panels, engraved with the names of U.S. fallen Vietnam War heroes, inspires an emotional, often cathartic experience for many visitors. It will be open for viewing day and night.  For more information go to or
Academy for Laity registration extended to August 3
Classes are filling up, but you can still register for the 33rd Academy for Laity until August 3. The disciple-making academy will be at The Inn at Reading (1040 North Park Toad, Wyomissing, PA), August 13-14, on a new two-day schedule to offer lower costs and greater convenience for students.
Dean Aubrey Bates extended the registration deadline but says the "Basic Course in Preparing Local Church Servants" and "Speaking 1: Preaching to be Heard" are both filled and a few others are filling up. Still available are: "Theology and Doctrine," "Making Every Prayer Count," "Emotional Intelligence" and  several more mind-expanding, soul-enriching courses. See the full list with course descriptions and register online today.
The Academy for Laity is open to all who wish to serve Christ in ministry. The 2016 theme is "Follow that Star: Make It Happen." Don't miss this valuable opportunity to change your life and your ministry.  Learn more...
Church starts young adult mentoring ministry 
"You Called?"   is Arch Street UMC's new mentoring program for young adults discerning a call to ministry. This is a year-long, part-time program for young adults ages 18 to 25, which provides work in a specific social justice context, one-on-one mentoring sessions, trainings, and a nurturing community with the peer group of six participants. The program design is ideal for participants who are also working or enrolled in classes in the Philadelphia area. You can find more information, as well as printable and online applications  on our website. The application deadline is July 31. If you have any questions, contact Rachel Ternes, Missionary and Organizer at Arch Street UMC at ­­­ .
Hopewell's Planting Seeds event set for Oct. 22
Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth , presented by Hopewell UMC, Downingtown, PA, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, from 2 to 6:30 PM.  This year's focus is Kingdom Building, with keynote speaker and workshop presenter Reggie McNeal.  

Dr. McNeal, a widely respected author and speaker on the church and its future, will address "Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church-and What We Should Do Instead."  Additional workshops will be led by the Rev. David Woolverton (St. Mark's UMC, Mount Joy), and Dr. Peter Loedel (West Chester University).  Online registration for the event will open in August at  For more information, contact Deb Boyd at Learn more...
UM Day at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Saturday, August 20, we'll  al l journey 
to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom for our annual United Methodist D ay, to enjoy thrilling rides, musical performances and other exciting activities, or to just relax with families and friends. Tickets are only $34, which is a $23 discount, with the UM Day coupon.   A portion of the proceeds benefits the United Methodist Men's ministries. Download the Flyer!  [PDF]
Download the Coupon!  [PDF]  Valid all day August 20.  Learn more ...
Helping men to prevent domestic violence
"If you see something, do something." Hopewell UMC will host a free training to help men stop domestic violence when they witness or know about it. This Where Do You Stand?   conversation, Saturday, August 6 , from 1 to 3 PM,focuses on "bystander intervention" and targets, but is not limited to, college-age young men. It positively portrays  young men as vital allies and invites all men to consider their own stance on men preventing sexism and sexual assault. Visit  to register. E-mail Pastor Amy Banka at for more details.  Download the Flyer  [PDF]
Campus Ministry Sunday, Aug. 21
The Eastern PA Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry invites congregations to celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday Aug. 21 by highlighting the importance of c hurch and campus ministries that involve and impact college and university students. The board works with campus ministers primarily at four schools in its bounds: Drexel, Millersville, Lebanon Valley Christian College and Albright College. But it is exploring relationships with other institutions also. Please plan to receive a Campus Ministry Sunday special offering on or near Aug. 21. and remit at least half of it to the Conference Treasurer's Office to help in our supportive outreach to college and university students. More information will be forthcoming. 
Bishop's Days on the Districts
NW District--Sept. 27; SE District--Oct. 3; SW District--Oct. 4; Central District--Oct. 17; NE District--Oct. 19; and East District--Oct. 20.  
Update your Find-A-Church profile
Developed by United Methodist Communications, Find-A-Church helps your church connect with people who may be looking online for a church to provide worship, fellowship, spiritual nurture and other needs.   If your church has a Website, having a church page in Find-A-Church doubles your local visibility to reach people searching by city, town or zip code. It is the official online directory of United Methodist churches in the United States and  one of the most visited sections of, averaging more than 1,000 page views a day. You'll achieve the best results from your Find-A-Church profile when you update your church's information. For video instructions on how, visit Video Tutorial: Find-A-Church Overview
Missed any past issues of NEWSpirit Digest?
You can still read or share informative, colorful back issues of our weekly e-newsletter on the Eastern PA Conference Website at this link with others who might want to stay informed about our news, events, resources and concerns. And please encourage them to subscribe by e-mailing Thanks!
Please Save These Dates! 
August 17-20: School of Congregational Development 2016  ("Into the Deep") in Evanston, Illinois. The premier event for equipping conference leaders, clergy, and laity to lead vital, dynamic, life-changing congregations. Sponsored by Discipleship Ministries, Global Ministries, and Path 1, this year's event is being hosted by the Northern Illinois Conference and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  Register here

August 13-14: Academy for Laity, The Inn at Reading
August 21: Campus Ministry Sunday

August 29-31: Global United Methodist Clergywomen Gathering,   Houston, Texas, Theme: "ONE: Birthing a Worldwide Church."  Learn more...
Sept. 10: Children's Ministry Training Event, West Lawn UMC
Sept. 17 Laity Retreat 

Oct. 1: Adjourned Session of Annual Conference, Bethany UMC Wescosville

Oct. 8: Radical Discipleship Workshop, led by Bill Easum, at Thorndale UMC. Save the date and don't miss it! More info coming.

Oct. 28-30 2016: Changing Racism Training,  at the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Register online . The cost is $300.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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